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The future of Sierra Nevada snow: Dr. Alex Hall on the climate future of the Sierra

June 23rd, 2018 by Geoff, Executive Director

What will happen to the Sierra Nevada’s snowpack as climate change impacts accumulate through the 21st century? This question is vital to both the ecological health of the Range of Light and to water delivery systems throughout California. And, it matters a great deal to Mono Lake and its many miles of tributary streams, which depend on Sierra runoff for their vitality.

A view of the Eastern Sierra from Virginia Canyon to Mt. Conness, including Mono Lake. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Forecasts of the future rely on complex climate modeling, and I talked with Dr. Alex Hall, Professor of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences at UCLA, about the work he and his team have been conducting to produce actionable climate science. Dr. Hall heads the Center for Climate Science, where they have developed cutting-edge downscaling techniques to create geographically detailed climate projections for the Los Angeles area and the Sierra Nevada.

Geoff: Thanks for taking time to talk, Alex. You have just released a major report, Climate Change in the Sierra Nevada: California’s Water Future. What are the big takeaway messages?

Alex: Temperatures across the Sierra Nevada are warming … more »

Summer interpretive activities begin at Mono Lake this weekend

June 21st, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist

Days are longer, evenings are warmer, and the Mono Basin is buzzing with activity. Summer is in full swing and when you visit there are many things to do: South Tufa tours, bird walks, Panum Crater walks, Stars Over Mono programs, and canoe tours!

Guests observe alkali flies on a free South Tufa Tour. Photo by Sandra Noll.

Join us daily for free South Tufa tours to learn about the political and natural history of Mono Lake. Tours last approximately one hour and your guide will lead you through towering groves of tufa, help you observe Mono Lake’s endemic shrimp, and if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of nesting Osprey. Meet at the South Tufa kiosk, daily at 10:00am & 6:00pm. (Tours are free, however there is a $3 fee to visit South Tufa.)

The Mono Basin is a birder’s paradise. Free bird walks … more »

Screenings of “The Longest Straw” film at Mono Lake

June 19th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist

“The Longest Straw” plays June 22, July 6, & July 20 at the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining. Photo courtesy of Samantha Bode.

In 2015 we had the pleasure of meeting Samantha Bode. She had just finished hiking the length of the Los Angeles Aqueduct—338 miles from Los Angeles to Mono Lake—for a documentary she was making.

In Sam’s documentary, The Longest Straw, she talks to community leaders, residents, and advocates in Los Angeles as well as the communities most affected by the exportation of water south. The film premiered at the New Urbanism Film Festival last October and we are excited to be hosting three showings here in the Mono Basin this summer.

Free screenings will be held on June 22, July 6, and July 20 at 7:00pm at the … more »

Free concert on Sunday at Mono Lake County Park: Fun for the whole family!

June 15th, 2018 by Alexis, Mono Lake Intern

Attention everyone ages 0–99—there is a free concert at Mono Lake County Park this Sunday, June 17!

Join us at Mono Lake County Park on Sunday at noon for good music, tasty food, and friendship! Photo courtesy of Sally Miller.

This a fantastic opportunity for people to come together for an afternoon of music and good vibes. The concert will begin at 12:00noon and will feature local band Wild Mountain Thyme. This talented group brings a fantastic blend of traditional music from around the world to the Eastern Sierra for your enjoyment.

There will be burgers galore available for lunch … more »

Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua programs still have space

June 12th, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist

The seventeenth annual Mono Basin Bird Chautauqua starts this week! This year’s festival is sure to be an incredible weekend with over 300 participants and more than 50 presenters. If you haven’t had a chance to register, don’t worry—there are still programs available.

Yosemite ranger Karen Amstutz leads a trip near Virginia Lakes. Photo by Elin Ljung.

Click through to see a list of programs that still have space. Full trip descriptions can be found on the event website.


Information Center & Bookstore summer hours begin Thursday

June 10th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

Starting on Thursday, June 14, the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open from 8:00am to 9:00pm every day.

Starting on Thursday, June 14, the Mono Lake Committee Information Center & Bookstore will be open from 8:00am to 9:00pm every day. Photo by Erv Nichols.

Stop by to pick up a Mono Lake T-shirt, buy maps for your next hike, find gifts for friends and family, watch The Mono Lake Story half-hour film, select some postcards to help remember your trip, or get information about canoeing, hiking, camping, lodging, restaurants, and more. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Peak streamflows on Mono Lake’s tributaries exceed expectations

June 7th, 2018 by Greg, Information & Restoration Specialist

Peak snowmelt runoff on Mono Lake’s tributary streams is occurring!

Restoration Field Technician Robbie Di Paolo retrieves a temperature logging device in high flows on Rush Creek. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Lundy Lake Reservoir is spilling, and the Rush Creek peak flow of 380 cubic feet per second (cfs) below Grant Lake Reservoir is being released over the next five days. So far, snowmelt runoff above the aqueduct has peaked at 272 cfs on Rush Creek, 238 cfs on Lee Vining Creek, 46 cfs on Parker Creek, and 23 cfs on Walker Creek. The flows should begin to subside soon given the rapid melting and limited snowpack. … more »

2018 Mono Lake Committee Scholarship recipients

June 2nd, 2018 by Gabrielle, Project Specialist

Since 2008, the Mono Lake Committee has supported local students by awarding two $1,000 scholarships to Mono County seniors. Each year we ask applicants to visit Mono Lake and write an essay answering the question, “Why are places like Mono Lake important?” We are pleased to announce this year’s recipients, Rosalie Burch and Isabel Calderon from Lee Vining High School. Both wrote thoughtful and inspiring essays.

Gabrielle and Rosalie at the 2018 LVHS graduation. Photo by Ellen King.

In her essay Rosalie wrote, “Everything on our planet is connected and we all rely on each other in order to thrive.” Rosalie will be attending the National University of Ireland this fall to study international business affairs.

Gabrielle and Isabel at the 2018 LVHS graduation. Photo by Ellen King.


Isabel plans to begin her studies locally at Cerro Coso Community College in Mammoth Lakes and aspires to become a medical social worker. In her essay she wrote, “One reason why places like Mono Lake matter is because they simply provide a place to escape the world of mankind and be able to connect with nature.”

All Mono County seniors with firm plans to attend a 2- or 4-year college within a year of graduation are eligible to apply for the Mono Lake Committee Scholarship. If you have any questions about the scholarship program or would like to donate to the fund please contact Arya Harp at (760) 647-6595 x111.

Reflections on 40 years: A current look at the Mono Lake Committee

May 31st, 2018 by Sally, Board of Directors

Editor’s note: To celebrate the Mono Lake Committee’s 40th anniversary in the Newsletter, Sally Gaines, co-founder and Board Chair, is writing a series of reflections on the past, present, and future of the organization.

Today the Mono Lake Committee is widely respected as a model environmental group. I attribute this to an incredible staff, now numbering 15, as well as 11 seasonal staff, plus a cohesive Board of Directors. The policy issues grow ever more complex, and drag on for years, if not decades. The longevity of our staff means we are forever reeducating new bureaucratic staff we work with.

Several bequests have stabilized our financial picture, enabling us to improve the front of our headquarters, still and forever in Lee Vining. We continue to have excellent information for visitors, a fitting selection of books, clothing, and gifts, as well as staff offices in back. We are never changing our name either. Photo by Arya Harp.

Scientific research continues; some is old: California Gulls, Eared Grebes, lake level, salinity, stream restoration. Newer topics … more »

Summer 2018 Mono Lake Newsletter now online

May 30th, 2018 by Elin, Communications Coordinator

It’s the human condition to operate with one foot in the future and one in the past, right? Here at the Mono Lake Committee we are certainly human—building on the past, with eyes trained on the future.

This year—our 40th anniversary—invites a nod to the past. It’s a chance to look back at the organization’s strong foundation laid by good humans like Sally Gaines, the late Genny Smith, and so many others who set us on the course that led to landmark successes that continue to protect the Mono Basin today.

This Newsletter is a snapshot of what we’re doing right now for Mono Lake. We’re squeezing a record number of groups into this year’s Outdoor Education Center season. We’re determining the kind of restoration flows the streams should receive based on snowpack and runoff data. … more »

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